Archive for Economy

Economic growth proposals for Teesside quashed by Vince Cable

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (April 30th 2013) slammed comments made by Business Secretary Vince Cable that Teesside – and the rest of the North East will have to, in Tom’s words, “whistle in the wind” for previously promised extra cash to boost regeneration and economic growth.

In a speech made in front of journalists, Mr Cable said that organisations like the Tees Valley  ‘Local Enterprise Partnership’ (LEP) was simply not capable of handling huge sums of public money, arguing that big decisions must be administered from Whitehall.

Mr Cable also said “There is a genuine concern about local enterprise partnerships. Hardly any of them come up to me and say ‘we would like billions more money to spend’…They are quite small groups… [and only had] five, six, or seven business people on the board” adding: “You can’t hand over large chunks of public money, with limited controls, into that kind of structure.

Tom said:
“Vince Cable has unilaterally and brutally torn up a report drawn up by Lord Heseltine and endorsed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that proposed that the LEP’s would get a share of the £70 billion proposed by Lord Heseltine and Chancellor George Osborne.

“It is an utter insult to the businesspeople who sit on the local LEPs, people who, in their day-to-day life make multi-million pound decisions in areas like the chemical, logistics and the engineering industries.

“In effect Mr Cable has told Teesside to ‘drop dead’ over pleas for real cash to invest in local industry and the creation of much needed jobs for Teesside’s unemployed. Put simply this is a mess and it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who is calling the shots here – is it the Chancellor or Vince Cable?

“The LEP’s were touted as the Government’s big idea to replace regional development agencies that existed under the previous Labour Government and helped direct spending in the regions. Now we see them downgraded at the whim of one Liberal Democrat Minister. Worse, in his comments he lashed into what he saw as differences between Teesside and the rest of the North East – fuelling and stoking up inter-regional squabbles, diversions which we all need like a hole in the head.
“What is needed is simple common sense from the Government, an endorsement of the spending plans of both the Tees Valley and North East LEP’s and a steer for both to work together more closely – and not the exact opposite.”

“In the final analysis the voters will know who to blame – but that won’t be until 2015.This issue has to be settled now – and settled properly in the interests of jobs and growth for our area.”

Government should have given greater consideration to “local economy” when awarding CCS funding

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today branded as “appalling” the fact that the Government did not appear to take into account Teesside’s local economy when deciding not to award Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) commercialisation funding to Teesside.

Tom said:
“In Parliament, I asked the Government whether they took into account the levels of unemployment here on Teesside and the potential effect on the local process industry cluster when they decided to not award Teesside CCS commercialisation funding.

“It was most disappointing that rather than providing a straightforward answer to this seemingly simple question, that Tory Energy Minister John Hayes felt it necessary to provide a link to a 500 page tendering document. I have, however, taken a look at this document, and it does not appear that significant consideration was given to the local economy when the Government made this important decision.

“If the Government had funded CCS on Teesside, it could have had significant benefits to our struggling local economy. For example, we already have in place the pipelines to the North Sea gas and oil fields – where the C02 would be sequestered – so the Teesside bid could be both more effective and cheaper and would also boost the offshore sector. Yet, the Government failed to consider this. To me, it is very hard to justify not even taking local economic factors into account when awarding funding from a £1 billion pot.”

‘A flat lining Budget from a downgraded Chancellor’

Tom Blenkinsop MP has today (20th March 2013) criticised the Budget delivered by Tory Chancellor George Osborne for failing to deliver the necessary boost to get our economy moving in the right direction.

Tom’s comments came as it was revealed by the Office for Budget Responsibility that “the Government has announced a number of policy measures that are expected to have a broadly neutral fiscal impact in aggregate between 2012-13 and 2017-18, with ‘giveaways’ almost exactly offsetting ‘takeaways’ over this period.”

Tom said:
“Whilst we did see some welcome measures in today’s Budget, such as the cancellation of the fuel and beer duty rise, it is clear that the Chancellor is drowning in an economic mess of his own creation as GDP forecasts were slashed and borrowing is skyrocketing.

“There is absolutely no sense in borrowing for failure and there is no sense in tinkering around the edges. We need investment in infrastructure now not in 2 years’ time and Teesside didn’t need the kick in the teeth that was the loss of the potential Carbon Capture and Storage contract at the Wilton site.

“For three years now we have heard the same rhetoric from Osborne, that the economy is ‘on the right track’ when quite clearly it is not. Growth for this year has been halved to 0.6% and debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than the Chancellor forecast at the last Budget – he is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.

“My constituents are struggling now, yet the only people Osborne is fighting for are the millionaires and the hedge fund managers. Today’s Budget was an opportunity to set that right and it was one Osborne missed.”

Tom gives support to Ed Miliband’s call for ‘regional banks’ as a potential boost to Teesside business

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 14th 2013) gave his personal support to Ed Miliband’s call for the setting up of locally based Regional Banks.

Labour’s Leader, speaking to the British Chambers of Commerce conference, said he saw these banks as a ‘vital tool’ in boosting regional investment and helping regional business.

The Labour Leader wants a network of 20 German-style regional banks that could be backed with public cash to get badly needed funds to firms.

They would work alongside a British Investment Bank set to be backed by £200 million of taxpayers’ cash which would allow it to lend £2billion.

Regional lenders would have a “civic duty” to promote long-term growth rather than simply chase a quick profit.

Tom said:
“This is a key development in Labour’s approach to boosting the economy and breaking from the ‘slash and burn’ austerity approach of the present coalition government.

“I have heard time and time again from local businesses about how the existing banking network fails to respond to requests for investment lending, with local managers, no matter how sympathetic, unable to help due to orders from above from their City of London masters – people only really interested in speculation on the money markets – not industry.

“Even the coalition has dimly recognised this, but despite their pleading, their efforts to boost lending have failed, with a £4.5 billion drop in the last quarter of 2012 alone.

“Setting up Regional Banks, using a model already working well in Germany, will mean banks on our doorsteps, and staffed by people who know their region and know the strengths and weaknesses of our local economy, and able to intervene with targeted lending and long term support for key areas such as – on Teesside – chemicals and marine and process engineering.

“This is a development which I know will be hugely popular with Teesside business when the coming Labour Government sets it up. Roll on that day!”

Tom backs calls for ‘mansion tax’ and 10p tax proposals

Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop is backing calls by Ed Miliband for a fairer tax system that would see the introduction of a ‘mansion tax’ on properties worth over £2m and using the money raised to reintroduce a 10p rate of tax.

Tom said:
“I very much welcome this proposal by Ed Miliband as it clearly sets out where Labour’s priorities lie: backing low and middle earners who are seeing their living standards squeezed and are struggling with the bills at the end of the month. The proposal would put right the mistake made by scrapping it and put Labour where it should always have been, on the side of working people.

“As well as cancelling the millionaire’s tax cut and the tax credit cuts this April, Labour would tax houses worth over £2 million and we would use the money raised by a mansion tax to reintroduce a 10 pence starting rate of tax which would benefit almost 1 million taxpayers in the North East.

“It is clear policies of recent years have been failing to help those who are working hard or young people who are unable to find employment. The current Government have their priorities wrong with their tax cut for millionaires. A temporary cut in VAT to boost economic growth or action on train fares, tackling “unfair” bank charges and capping interest on payday loans are moves that would genuinely help my constituents and only Labour is looking at those issues seriously.”

Osborne plan pushes UK to brink of triple-dip recession

Figures released today (25th January 2013) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the last quarter of 2012, proving that the economy has flatlined for over a year.

Commenting on the figures, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop said:
“Today’s GDP stats don’t depict the real human cost of what’s happening for many people here on Teesside, in East Cleveland and across the UK. They don’t tell the stories of young people unable to find their first job, families struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month and pensioners unable to keep their homes warm.

“The figures show that manufacturing fell by 1.5% and North Sea maintenance has hit oil and gas extractions, both of these have a significant impact on our region. The uncertainty created by Cameron’s mixed messages on Europe seriously risk business investing in the country – and when the UK economy gets a cold, the North East gets the flu.

“The UK is going through its worst recovery from a recession in history and we know that the government will have increased UK debt by 60%, which is more in 5 years than the previous Labour government did in 13.

“George Osborne and David Cameron are on the verge of exchanging our triple-A credit rating for a triple-dip recession as he carries on with his flailing economic policies – including this week declaring further cuts will be on the way. This will be felt nowhere harder than our local community.

“It is undeniable by any measure that the Osborne plan is failing. Every struggling family and business knows who to blame for their plight and the Chancellor must listen to what they are saying.”

Autumn Statement proves ‘nation has suffered two years of shambolic economic policy’

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, declared today’s (5th December 2012) Autumn Statement, delivered by Chancellor George Osborne, a “confirmation of the complete mishandling of the economy by the Coalition Government” as a series of further cuts and missed targets were announced.

Tom said:
“Today’s Autumn Statement, half-way through the Parliamentary term has resoundingly proved that George Osborne’s Plan A has failed. It hasn’t secured the growth required, and despite all the rhetoric about getting the debt down, it is actually going up and will do for years. Yet it’s not going up really for investment, it’s going up to pay for Tory failure.

“Last year, Ministers boasted that their infrastructure plan would boost the economy, but none of the road schemes have even started construction. The Government needs to ensure that this funding urgently gets to where it is most needed, particularly the announced upgrades to the A1 – making the entire route a motorway.

“Yet cuts to infrastructure projects, such as the Building Schools for the Future programme, two years ago were clearly a mistake and the Chancellor seems to have finally admitted that. So the extra funding for new free schools, which will be smaller than the huge cuts he previously made are of little consolation to schools in my constituency such as Laurence Jackson and Kilton Thorpe School who have still ultimately lost out.

“I am also concerned about what impact the removal of national pay bargaining from teachers will have on educational standards. This could see teachers move to areas that can afford to pay higher wages and this could lower standards. Yet the British education system was recently listed as the 6th best in the world.

“Other announcements failed to include our area. HS2 plans are to be extended to the North West and West Yorkshire – yet the North East is left out. And what about much needed broadband improvements? Vital to any future economy, yet Teesside is not even on the ‘broadband enhancement map’.

“The Chancellor had the audacity to repeat his calls that ‘we are all in this together’ yet next April’s 50p tax cut means over 8000 millionaires will get a tax cut worth £107, 500 – whilst hard-working families receiving in work benefits and credits are capped at a 1% increase regardless of the level of inflation which could strain purse strings. Although it was good to hear that pressure from the Labour Party has forced the cancellation of January’s 3p fuel duty rise, which will come as a relief to hard-pressed motorists and businesses.

“If the complete failure of Osborne’s Plan A is the “right track” then I dread to think where the wrong track would lead us.”

Government failing Teesside by their refusal to grant RGF money to Durham Tees Valley Airport

Labour Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today “slammed” the decision made by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to not award RGF round 3 funding to Durham Tees Valley Airport to develop its freight capacity.

Tom said:
“It is no secret that Durham Tees Valley Airport have been struggling for some years now, but I have always thought it has potential to develop its freight operations. As such, it is really disappointing that Whitehall mandarins and Tory and Lib Dem Ministers have decided not to award the Airport the £6,000,000 it needed to create up to 1,500 jobs.

“It is such a shame that these decisions are not being made regionally, as they were under Regional Development Agencies, but instead by people in London who fail to understand our sub-regional economy’s unique needs.

“This is just another instance where Teesside is missing out in terms of vital infrastructure spend at the hands of this Government, with them previously having failed to announce any electrification of railway between Northallerton and Middlesbrough, despite their planning to electrify the vast majority of the TransPennine route.

“It appears that the Tories and Lib Dems have little interest in investing in our infrastructure on Teesside, something that I consider vital for our economy to grow. Next week, I will be asking Transport Ministers in Parliament what discussions, if any, they had with the Business Ministers responsible for RGFs about supporting this bid, and will be urging the Government to give Durham Tees Valley Airport the funding and support it needs.”

Failing funding scheme is hampering businesses

Commenting on a report that described the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) as a “scandalous” failure released today (11th September 2012) by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Tom Blenkinsop MP labelled the scheme an ‘evidently poor replacement for Regional Development Agencies’.

The report claims that only 2400 jobs have been created so far by the £1.4 billion scheme with only £60 million of that reaching the frontline projects.

Tom said:
“This scathing report into the performance of RGF brings to the front the incompetence of the Government when it comes to generating the growth needed to get the economy back on track. They are failing businesses who could be the sparks that get people back into work and getting us out of this double dip recession.

“It is particularly depressing news for North East firms who are not getting the support they require to succeed after the Regional Development Agency – One North East (ONE) – was abolished. Whilst the RGF is a centrally run scheme ONE was a well-established agency with local knowledge and expertise and had strong links to North East businesses and industry.

“Hopefully this report, by a committee that has two Teesside MPs from the Coalition as members, will act as a catalyst for the Government to get a grip of the scheme and ensure that the funding is getting to businesses that require it. If not the economy will continue to fail.”

“With heightened depression on our local high streets George Osborne deserved his booing”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (September 4th 2012) said that George Osborne ‘richly deserved’ his booing by Olympic crowds yesterday – and that it would undoubtedly be repeated on Teesside.

Tom said:
“When the respected Local Data Company estimate that the number of empty shops on Britain’s High Streets are rocketing – including Teesside where they estimate that 26.7% of shops in Middlesbrough are vacant – the 5th worst in the UK – it was no surprise that George Osborne was booed by the crowd at the Olympic Stadium yesterday.

“This news gives the real picture of how businesses in the UK and on Teesside are suffering under the economic policies of this coalition government. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a second ceremonial booing of Cameron, Clegg and Osborne at Middlesbrough’s next home game at the Riverside.”